Thursday, January 21, 2016
Doctor's Perspective
The use of facial recognition

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Fingerprints are unique physical characteristics that have been used for identification for many years. Many other characteristics can also be used for identification. DNA analysis is the gold standard. On a recent episode of Elementary, a case was solved due to the unique characteristics of ears. We have often seen television shows and movies where the police use facial recognition software. Facial characteristics are not as effective for identification as DNA and fingerprints. However, they do offer a high degree of certainty if enough characteristics are available. One might wonder where the database comes from for facial recognition. The assumption is that it is often based upon criminal activities that the police have accumulated. That is usually true but not always the case. Facial characteristics can be used for many things. That happens in Europe more than it does in the United States. For example, there is a billboard for a beer company which uses facial recognition to tell the age and sex of passersby. The billboard then has a video aimed at capturing the attention of that group of individuals. Some high end department stores use facial recognition which can be used for security for known shoplifters. Facial recognition can be used for marketing when it recognizes someone who spends a lot of money in the store. In some stores a salesperson will greet the shopper by name. The store provides an escort to help the shopper spend money. Some casinos have begun using the software so that they can identify big spenders and card counters. In either case, the software allows casinos to make money. In one instance they can encourage the individual to spend more money. In the other they can prevent themselves from being ripped off. In order for facial recognition to be truly effective, a large database must be available. Sometimes these databases are built up involuntarily. That is the case with many of the security related databases. Other times databases are built voluntarily. For example, Facebook has a feature which allows individuals to "tag" friends by name in the photos they post online. If you go to the Facebook site, they will tell you how they do this: "We currently use facial recognition software that uses an algorithm to calculate a unique number ("template") based on someone's facial features, like the distance between the eyes, nose and ears. This template is based on your profile pictures and photos you've been tagged in on Facebook." Thus, whenever you "tag" someone on Facebook, you are giving them permission to store that face in their facial recognition system. Given the number of Facebook users, it means that they have amassed quite a database. Right now that database is used within Facebook. It is likely that this kind of thing will increase in the future. It is like the old line that goes, "Smile, you're on candid camera."

Blood Bank of Delmarva urges blood donation before storm With the real possibility of this winter's first significant storm of the season, the Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) is urging blood donors to strongly consider donating the gift of life before travel on area roadways becomes an issue. "Cold and flu season has started to take its toll on our donor base," said Michael Waite, Director of Marketing & Community Relations at the Blood Bank. "In addition, we've supported multiple traumas since the beginning of the year, which has caused a significant increase in blood utilization and has taken a toll on our local inventory. If we experience the type of storm they're calling for, our supply situation could become critical very quickly." It takes an average of 350 donors a day to supply the blood and blood products that local hospitals need to treat their patients. As Blood Bank of Delmarva wraps up the celebration of National Blood Donor Month, which runs through January, there's still time for donors to become eligible for BBD's Winter Blood Challenge and the chance to win an LG 60"Ultra HD Smart TV . Blood Bank of Delmarva operates five permanent donor centers throughout the Delmarva region, as well as more than 30 mobile donation locations. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days as long as an individual is at least 17 years of age, weighs at least 110 pounds and is in generally good health. Platelets can be donated every two weeks as long as the donor has a height, weight and platelet count ratio that is conducive to giving. Over 35 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, but only five percent actually do. For more information about the Blood Bank or to schedule a donation appointment, please call 1 888 8-BLOOD-8 or visit You can also download BBD's mobile app and schedule an appointment on your mobile device. Although appointments are preferred, walk-in donors are always welcome.

About Blood Bank of Delmarva Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) is a non-profit community service organization that provides blood and blood products to hospitals in the greater Delmarva region. In addition, BBD provides donor testing services for blood collection centers. BBD is a member of America's Blood Centers and accredited by AABB. For more information about the Blood Bank, or to schedule an appointment, download our mobile app, visit or call 1-888 8BLOOD8.

Free Alzheimer's program The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter and Laurel Centenary Methodist Church will present a series of free programs to the public. The following programs will be offered at the church at 6:30 p.m. on the following dates: Tuesday, Feb. 2 - Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer's - The Basics Monday, Feb. 8 - Legal and Financial Issues Tuesday, Feb. 16 - Effective Communication Tuesday, Feb. 23 - Understanding Dementia Related Behaviors To register, call 800-272-3900 prior to the date of the presentation.

Strength training for survivors As a cancer survivor, you know you should include strength training in your exercise routine, but where do you begin? Join Adam David Howard, BS, CPT, personal trainer of Body Shop Fitness in Rehoboth at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, to learn how to begin a gentle routine that will start you back on the road to good health. Dress comfortably. Call 645-9150 in advance to reserve your spot in this workshop. All programs offered at Cancer Support Community are free of charge to people affected by cancer and their loved ones. The Sussex facility is located at 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Ste. 312, Rehoboth.

Yin Yoga workshop The Cancer Support Community, Sussex facility, will offer a workshop about Yin Yoga which focuses on opening the joints and dense connective tissue of the body, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23. Instructor is Shannon Sugrue.

Yin Yoga is a practice of long held floor poses that can clear energetic blocks in the body, calm the nervous system and create lasting change in range of motion. This meditative practice will include poses that help balance the meridians in your body for winter health and well being. Dress comfortably. Call 645-9150 to reserve your spot. All programs offered at Cancer Support Community are free of charge to people affected by cancer and their loved ones. The Sussex facility is located at 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Suite 312, Rehoboth.

Lymphedema support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a lymphedema support group on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center from 1:30-3 p.m. The topic will be Social Services. This free support group is open to anyone affected by lymphedema including patients, caregivers, and relatives. Meetings will consist of a lecture by health care professionals and medical equipment providers followed by refreshments and an open question and answer session or discussion among participants. Registration is required. Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin that occurs most commonly in the limbs. A chronic condition, lymphedema causes swelling which may create movement limitation, and leaves patients at higher risks for wounds and infections. Additional meeting dates and topics for this year include: Feb. 18 - vascular; March 17 - aquatics treatment & exercises; April 21 - compression garments; May 19 - OT self care; June 16 - cancer care; July 21 - skin & wound care; Aug. 18 - bariatrics. For more information or to register, contact Robert Donati at 629-6224 or

Autographed jersey raffle A friend of Nanticoke Health Services Foundation has generously donated an autographed Washington Redskins Alfred Morris football jersey to be used as a raffle item to benefit Nanticoke Health Services. The raffle drawing will be held on Friday, Feb. 5, outside the food court at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. Raffle tickets are available for $5 a ticket or $10 for three tickets in the Human Resources Department or through the Foundation Department. Tickets can also be purchased online at or by calling the Foundation at 536-5390.

Parkinson's Support Group Nanticoke Health Services, in conjunction with CHEER and Care DE and The Methodist Manor House, will hold a Parkinson's education and support group from 9:30-11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. This support group is free and open to the public. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disease that affects the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. A Parkinson's disease diagnosis can bring out many difficult emotions. It is a challenge to learn how to cope with these feelings along with the stress of diagnosis and treatment. Participating in education/support groups is essential for coping with an illness such as PD or other disorders that impair bodily movement. This support group is also helpful for caregivers, friends and family. Group members welcome guest speakers on subjects related to PD and provide support to each other through small group discussions. Studies show that the information, training, and counseling that participants receive while attending support group sessions enhances the quality of life, help to alleviate stress, and may even boost the immune system. Tara Trout, LPN at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, co-facilitates the group with Kathy Landis, Care Giver Resource Coordinator at CHEER in Sussex County.

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital to hold Diabetes Education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on Feb. 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. The cost of the program may be reimbursable by insurance. As a person with diabetes, Nanticoke Health Services can be part of your healthcare team to help teach you the self-care skills needed to keep you on track. Our four-session diabetic program includes weekly education sessions in a group setting. One family member or significant other is welcome to attend as a passenger on your diabetic road trip. Program Schedule: What is Diabetes? Physiology and Self-Care Skills Review Meal Planning, Eating Out, Reading Food Labels Self Blood Glucose Monitoring & Management, Sick Day Rules, Traveling Medications Used to Manage Diabetes Stress ManagementCoping with Diabetes & Lifestyle Changes Summary & Course Evaluations, Goal Setting Pre-registration is required prior to attending classes. To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education Department at 302-629-6611, extension 2446. Nanticoke Health Services includes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and the Nanticoke Physician Network. Nanticoke Health Services has been named one of the Top 150 Places to Work in Healthcare by Becker's Hospital Review for five years in a row. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital holds a Level III Trauma Center certification and is the only hospital on the Delmarva Peninsula to receive a 4-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Nanticoke is nationally certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and is a Gold Plus Award performer according to the American Heart/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines¨ program. Nanticoke's Cancer Care Services holds Accreditation with Commendation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and is a member of the Association of Community Cancer Centers. Nanticoke's medical staff includes over 155 active and community affiliate health care providers practicing in 40 different specialties.

Life Line Screening comes to Laurel Learn about your risk for chronic, serious conditions with affordable screenings by Life Line Screening at Centenary United Methodist Church, 200 West Market St., Laurel, on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Screenings can check for:
  • The level of plaque buildup in your arteries, related to risk for heart disease, stroke and overall vascular health.
  • HDL and LDL cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes risk
  • Bone density as a risk for possible osteoporosis
  • Kidney and thyroid function, and more
Screenings are affordable and accessible for wheelchairs and those with trouble walking. Free parking is also available. Call 1-877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.